There was a Finance Scrutiny Committee meeting last Tuesday and another of
my week’s stupid decisions is that I would do a 25 minute turn around from the
hospital visiting and the poor journey home - though not as poor as on Wednesday
- to get to the Civic Centre. I thought listening to councillors drone on might take
my mind off a day in hospital. I was wrong.
There were four members of the public present and at the end of the 50 minute meeting I said to Nick Dowling that I had not noted a single thing of interest and he said that would be correct. He told me that the scrutineers had asked a total of three questions but did not get a single answer. That isn’t absolutely correct, I recall a couple which weren’t answered but the questioning councillor was promised an email later. This could be considered to be a trick to shut the public out of democracy. Cabinet member Colin Campbell was asked a question too but had a senior moment and couldn’t remember the answer. It came to him later after he browsed the web on his phone. It’s happened to the best of us.
I recorded the meeting but I don’t think it would be worth a couple of hours to get some quotes out of it so this is what I remember clearly.
Councillor Philip Read made his usual decent enough job of chairing the meeting but insisted on going through the rigmarole of him having the power to forbid photography. He made the announcement after asking those intending to take photographs to identify themselves. No one did but he needed to tell us of his powers anyway.
Councillor Alan Deadman caused a ripple of laughter with the occasional joke. Councillor Tandy again found it necessary to lambast the French for the state of their economy, God knows why he does that at every Finance meeting. We'd be better off swapping him for Mike Slaughter who has decided to bow out, at least councillor Slaughter asks sensible questions even if he does turn away from his microphone so that it becomes virtually useless. Colin Tandy doesn’t even bother to switch his microphone on half the time and when he occasionally remembers half way through his mumbling it makes no difference because he sits a mile from the microphone with his fist stuck in front of his mouth.
In practice it makes not a lot of difference because microphones with speakers on minimum volume are not a lot of use. Maybe the new offices will transform the situation.
The whole meeting had an ‘end of term’ air to it, as indeed it is. Prefect Campbell will not be coming back at all, and for some inexplicable reason I think I shall miss him.